First Amendment Clinic

First Amendment Clinic

First Amendment Clinic

First Amendment Clinic

This yearlong clinic is supervised by lawyers at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and supported in part by gifts from the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression and the Virginia Press Association. In the clinic, students work closely with RCFP lawyers on timely and vital matters involving free speech and press freedom, enabling students to gain practical legal experience on cutting-edge First Amendment issues.

Students work as a team in conducting legal research, meeting with clients and co-counsel, and drafting legal memoranda and briefs. Assignments involve both appellate-level and trial-level litigation in both state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

Clinic students have represented journalists and members of the public in a variety of First Amendment matters, including defamation, court unsealing and public records cases. Last year, for instance, the clinic filed suit on behalf of UVA Law librarian Jon Ashley in support of his project to compile a database of non- and deferred-prosecution agreements made between the Department of Justice and various corporate defendants, leading to the release of relevant records. Students also successfully represented Forbes Media in an effort to unseal court records relating to the government’s use of the All Writs Act to compel private entities to assist in the tracking of suspects.

Students also advise and train local journalists on issues involving Virginia FOIA and open meetings law. And, the clinic has recently entered into a partnership with the Virginia Press Association to support journalists in Virginia to help them navigate state transparency laws and promote public oversight of local and state governments.

Skills Taught
Drafting legal memoranda and briefs, legal research, preparing FOIA requests
Course Length
Yearlong
Grading
CR/NC (fall); H/P/F (spring)
Course Credits
8 (4 fall/4 spring)
Application?
No
Instructors

First Amendment Clinic Sues DOJ Again for Non-Prosecution Agreements — and the Master List

Librarian Jon Ashley Is Plaintiff in Freedom of Information Act Litigation

Clinics